As the name of this post suggests – this is part two – if you haven’t already you might like to read part one.
So, by now you’ve got yourself a kick ass copy brief, and you’re much clearer about what it is you need to write, what you need to include etc . Now’s a really good time to plan out your structure. Here goes…
Now pretty much whatever you’re writing in terms of sales copy can be broken down as follows:
The Salutation – Dear / To / Hey etc
The Opener – you need to get to the point really quickly here, or you’re in danger of losing your reader. You need to get their attention and make sure they understand what it is you’re selling, and why they need it. Often I’ll ask a question by way of an opener. NB you may also mention your offer here (but only in brief).
What & Why – explain what it is you’re selling and more importantly – what the benefits of your particular product or service are. Features are nice and all that, but it’s the benefits that sell. Remember we talked about barriers to entry last time. You’ll need to break down these barriers here.
The How – explain here in more detail how your product / service works – here’s where your features come in.
The Offer – explain the details of your offer here. If you still haven’t got an offer, well – what can I say. Offers improve response rate. Are you really sure there’s absolutely nothing you could offer? Free or discounted trial? Free whitepaper? Money off purchases?
Lifesaver – I often like to ask ‘Still not sure?’ at this point. You’re almost at the last chance saloon. Give them a couple more reasons why they really should give you a go – pop in details of awards, testimonials etc
Response Mechanics – Tell them in plain English what they need to do next. Normally giving people a variety of ways to respond will also increase response – e.g. website, email, phone etc
Valediction - Yours sincerely / Kind regards / etc
Last Chance Saloon – Use a PS – this is your last chance – so keep it punchy and to the point – e.g. ‘PS Don’t miss out! To trial our service completely free of charge make sure you contact us before 4pm on 31/08/2010!
Formal Signature – name, address, contact details etc
Terms & Conditions / Legal - don’t forget to include the small print
Now comes the scary bit – putting pen to paper (or finger tip to keyboard).
At this point many find themselves staring at a horribly blank screen whilst they try to figure out where on earth to begin. You decide to make yourself a cup of tea, that will help. You type your opener a couple of times, delete it, re-type it, delete it. Then you figure you might need a break, so you have a quick look on Facebook / Twitter (or whatever your own particular brand of poison might be). An hour later you’ve still got nothing written and you’re getting more and more stressed by the second.
What to do? I’ve pulled together some tips below:
Skip the opener.
Yes, that’s right. Skip it. Yes it is really important, but don’t bother with it right now. That opening sentence is a horror, and right now it’s blocking you from getting down to the real work. I almost always write my opening lines last. In fact I often approach writing with something of a scatter gun approach.
Starting to write is often the hardest thing. Once you get into the flow, it gets easier. So just start. Start anywhere – any section you like. That’s the joy of planning your structure – start out by typing out your structural headings – and do the easy bits first. You’ll feel better straight away – look – words are now breaking up that previously impenetrable sea of white. You are awesome.
Don’t try to simultaneously write & edit.
Just write it. It doesn’t matter if it reads really badly. Just get it all down on paper. Normally I’ll set myself a time limit – e.g. half an hour’s solid writing. Then, and only then I’ll go back over it and edit it.
Don’t write your copy brief, then forget about it.
Once you’ve got a first draft that you’re reasonably happy with, go back and review your copy brief. Check that what you’ve written still fulfills the brief. If it doesn’t, then go back and amend it.
Find yourself a proof reader
So you’ve written and edited your little heart out. It’s now time to hand over your baby to someone else to proof read. They’ll do it much better than you ever could – you’re just too close to it now.
… So – how did I do? Got any tips of your own you’d like to share? That’s what the comments are for my loves